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Grains get a great new taste in salads


Bulgur, rice, barley and couscous get a fresh lift in these innovative salads.

All of these grains are quick-cooking and available in supermarkets.

Using the Middle Eastern standard, tabbouleh, we developed the Sultan's Salad, adding red lentils, pine nuts and dried fruits to the classic bulgur-and-herb base.

Inspired by an Italian rice salad spiked with capers and anchovies -- the Rice Salad Arlecchino makes a colorful side dish or, with the addition of tuna, a satisfying main course. Barley lends a pleasant chewiness to a Southwestern salad; with quick-cooking barley, the dish is ready in less than 20 minutes.

Perhaps couscous is the easiest of all: It requires no cooking, just a brief steeping. In the breezy Couscous Salad with Olives, it is enlivened with both orange zest and juice.

If you are preparing these salads ahead of time, remember to remove them from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving, as the flavors will be more vibrant at room temperature. And, like pasta, grains tend to absorb flavors as they sit, so taste

and adjust the seasonings just before serving.

The Sultan's Salad

Makes 6 (1-cup) servings

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 cup bulgur

1/2 cup red lentils

1/2 cup chopped dates

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/3 cup chopped fresh mint

2 tablespoons olive oil, preferably extra-virgin

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted and chopped

Bring water, cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of the salt to a boil in a small saucepan; stir in bulgur, remove from the heat, cover the pan and set aside for 30 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed. Spread the bulgur out on a baking sheet until cooled to room temperature, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine lentils and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a saucepan; add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a simmer and cook until the lentils are just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water, pressing firmly to remove excess water.

Combine the cooled bulgur and lentils in a serving bowl with dates, apricots, parsley, mint, oil, lemon juice and zest, and half of the pinenuts. Toss well. Sprinkle with the remaining pine nuts. (The salad can be made up to 1 day ahead and kept, covered, in the refrigerator.)

Per serving: 255 calories, 8 grams protein, 8 grams fat, 44 grams carbohydrate; 543 milligrams sodium; 0 milligrams cholesterol

Rice Salad Arlecchino

Serves 6

1 1/2 cups converted white rice

1 teaspoon salt, or more, to taste

2 carrots, crated (1 cup)

2 vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded and chopped (1 cup)

1 small zucchini, grated (1 cup)

1/4 cup capers, rinsed

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar

2 tablespoons water

2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard

1 teaspoon anchovy paste

2 tablespoons olive oil, preferably extra-virgin

freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add rice and salt, lower heat, cover and simmer until rice is tender, about 17 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool. In a large bowl, combine rice, carrots, tomatoes, zucchini, capers and parsley; toss gently to blend.

In a small bowl, combine vinegar, water, mustard and anchovy paste; slowly whisk in oil. Pour over the rice salad and toss to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Per serving: 179 calories; 4 grams protein, 5 grams fat, 29 grams carbohydrate, 720 milligrams sodium; 1 milligram cholesterol

Santa Fe Barley Salad

Serves 4

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

1 cup quick-cooking barley

1 10-ounce package frozen baby lima beans, cooked according to package directions and cooled

1 small red bell pepper, seeded and very thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic

1/3 cup tomato juice

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (1 1/2 limes)

2 tablespoons olive oil, preferably extra-virgin

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of the salt to a boil; add barley and cook until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water, pressing on the barley to remove excess moisture.

Transfer the barley to a bowl and add lima beans and red pepper.

Chop garlic coarsely and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; mash to a paste with the flat side of a chef's knife. Transfer to a small bowl and whisk in tomato juice, lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, cumin, oregano and Tabasco. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir to combine.

Per serving: 345 calories; 11 grams protein, 8 grams fat, 60 grams carbohydrate, 752 milligrams sodium, 0 milligrams cholesterol

Couscous Salad With Olives

Makes about 6 (1-cup) servings

1 1/2 cups couscous, preferably whole-wheat (10 ounces)

1/4 cup orange-juice concentrate, thawed

2 tablespoons olive oil, preferably extra-virgin

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

2 cups boiling water

1 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup chopped scallions (4 scallions)

1/4 cup sliced black olives, preferably kalamata (12 olives)

1 navel orange, peeled, sectioned and sliced

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large bowl, stir together couscous, orange-juice concentrate, oil, mustard, thyme, orange zest and salt. Stir in boiling water, cover and set aside until the liquid has been absorbed, about 5 minutes.

Fluff the couscous with a fork. Add parsley, scallions, olives, orange and lemon juice; toss to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Per serving: 250 calories, 7 grams protein, 6 grams, fat 43 grams carbohydrate, 269 milligrams sodium; 0 milligrams cholesterol

( United Feature Syndicate

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